Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rerum Sapientia Custos

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Rerum Sapientia Custos
Optima gestarum rerum sapientia custos,
   Aeternis condens fortia facta libris.

By Wisedome, things which passe away
Are best preserved from decay.

Source: Gabriel Rollenhagen (1583-1619), Emblemata, 8. Meter: Elegiac. The English rendering is by George Withers. Here are Wither's lines on the symbolism of the emblem:
The Laurell, which is given for a Crowne
(To men deserving Glory, and renowne)
Is figur'd here, those noble deeds to show,
For which, the Wreaths of Honour, we bestow.
Two Serpents (Wisdome's Emblems) twisted are
About this branch of Laurell, to declare,
That, Wisdome is the surest meanes to save
Our Names and Actions, from Oblivion's Grave.
You can compare a similar emblematic image here.

The vocabulary is keyed to the DCC Latin Vocabulary list. All the words in this poem are on that list:

Wisdom is the best guardian (sapientia optima custos) of things that have been done (gestarum rerum), storing up brave deeds (condens fortia facta) in eternal books (aeternis libris).

aeternus -a -um: everlasting, eternal
condō -dere -didī -ditum: build, found; store up; hide, conceal
cūstōs, cūstōdis m.: guardian
faciō facere fēcī factum: do, make
fortis -e: brave
gerō gerere gessī gestum: bear, manage; bellum gerere, wage war
liber librī m.: book
optimus -a -um: best, excellent; adv. optimē
rēs reī f.: thing (rēs pūblica, commonwealth; rēs familiāris, family property, estate; rēs mīlitāris, art of war; rēs novae, revolution)
sapientia -ae f.: wisdom